Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Invitation Rejected

President Obama has extended an invitation to former President Bush to join him at Ground Zero on Thursday. Mr. Bush has declined, his spokesman stating his boss "appreciated the invite but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight."

A blog entitled "Main Street Liberal" must commend Democratic President Obama for being classy and attempting to reach out to his predecessor, in the one show of bipartisanship it is difficult to find fault with. No doubt, in a display of gracious magnanimity, Obama will (as he would have were Bush present) extend gratitude to the former president for his effort in the war on terrorism.

Classy, yes. But also tactically brilliant and, it appears from this corner, transparent.

The scene: one man, now in retirement, having failed for seven years to apprehend the evil force behind the attack which cost 3,000 American lives. The other, a sitting President, approving the operation which brought Osama bin Laden to justice in a mere 2+ years. And all of it to be recorded, videotaped, and played over and over again- especially in the autumn of 2012 as a paid political advertisement.

Informed as to the whereabouts of bin Laden, the President had two choices. They did not include a refusal to move on actionable intelligence. As a presidential candidate, Obama had promised to act in such instances and had he failed to do so, it probably would have become known, with disastrous political consequences.

The President, however, might have chosen an air strike to take out bin Laden. But assassination by drone is an inexact art and probably would have resulted in more death and destruction than the option selected. Instead, according to a United States counter-terrorism official, the commandos scooped up

electronics and storage media such as CDs and DVDs. That official said the cache was larger than expected, since bin Laden was communicating by courier and his compound had no phone or internet service.

Investigators will be looking first for any sign of attacks being planned, then for anything that leads them to other top operatives of the terrorist network, the counterterrorism official said. A task force was being set up at the CIA to comb through the evidence seized in the raid, according to a senior intelligence official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

Credit, justifiably, has been given President Obama for exceptional decision-making under stress and will be given for extending the invitation to George W. Bush. But the latter deserves credit, too, whether he declined the offer because he wishes to keep a low-profile, to avoid being humiliated, or to avoid being a prop in a campaign commercial likely to be used against the standard-bearer of his party next year.

Next up: Not all the Bushies should be applauded.

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